The Mannyaku-yama incident (万役山事件)

The Mannyaku-yama incident was the incident in which a dispute concerning a pine tree in the Kume-mura village in Suo Province caused a territory boundary-related dispute, further developing to the abolishment of the Tokuyama clan in 1715.

The Mannyaku-yama mountain (万役山) is located in Yamaguchi Prefecture and is also written as 万若山. The place, where the dispute concerned with a pine tree occurred, was called the Hashinoo-yama mountain in the Hagi domain territory and the Ozaki-yama mountain in the Tokuyama domain territory, and was located in a boundary between the Nishi-Kume-mura village in So family's territory in the Hagi domain and the Tokuyama domain. However, according to an old document named "Tokuyama Gokanpu Ikken" of the Tokuyama clan, the place in question was located in less than 18 meters inside or outside the boundary.

The start of the incident

In returning home after having weeded in their farm field in the Nishi-Kume-mura village on June 6 (in the old calendar) in 1715, Kihei, a farmer in the village, Soemon, his eldest son, and Sannojo, his second eldest son cut a pine tree that they had planted, and tried to bring the tree back for repairing ridges between rice fields. Spotting the scene, Riuemon IZAWA and Kyusuke, both ashigaru (a common foot soldier) of the Tokuyama clan who were patrolling the mountain area, blamed the conduct, which led to the incident. After they blamed the conduct, both parties started fighting and finally Riuemon decapitated Kihei.

Explanations of the Hagi clan

In a document submitted later to the Edo bakufu by Yoshimoto MORI, the lord of the Hagi domain, he wrote that the situation was as follows and it was Riuemon who started a violent action first. After Kihei cut the pine tree that he himself had planted, Riuemon and Kyusuke happened to came to the site and blamed the conduct, but Kihei rejected Riuemon's accusation saying that he himself had planted it. Then Riuemon hit Soemon twice with his stick, but dropped it when trying to hit him the third time and therefore held his short sword. Taking this opportunity, Soemon picked the stick and fled with it. Riuemon chased him but came out of the road and fell, and taking this opportunity, Soemon managed to escape. Therefore, Riuemon returned to the site and inflicted three wounds on Sannojo, and when Kihei tried to rescue his son, Riuemon decapitated Kihei.

Explanations of the Tokuyama clan

According to "Tokuyama Gokanpu Ikken," the situation was as follows and it was Soemon who started a violent action first. First, immediately after Kihei cut a pine tree, Riuemon happened to come to the site, and ordered Kihei to leave the cut pine and the sickle as evidence. However, Kihei abused him saying many bad things, and Riuemon took his sickle away. Then Soemon suddenly grappled the back of Riuemon and tried to pull him down by grasping his hair, so Riuemon pulled him forward and injured him slightly with his short sword. Being astonished, Soemon fell, and taking this opportunity, Sannojo fled with the drawn sword. However, solely hoping to rescue Soemon, Kihei rushed at Riuemon and hit him, so Riuemon decapitated Kihei.

Disputes between the Hagi clan and the Tokuyama clan

Uhei INOUE, the daikan (the bakufu-representing officer at a clan) of the Hagi clan, reported the Hagi clan about the details of the incident, and sent an inquiry letter to the Tokuyama clan. For this, Gihei YONEDA, the daikan of the Tokuyama clan, adamantly insisted that the site where the incident occurred was within the Tokuyama domain territory. To settle the situation peacefully, Mototoshi URA and Hiromichi KOKUSHI, who were in charge of political affairs in the Hagi clan at that time, sent Yozaemon NAGOYA (an uncle of Genba NAGOYA, a chief retainer of the Tokuyama clan, and of Satondo NAGOYA, a samurai retainer of the Tokuyama clan), who had a close connection with senior retainers of the Tokuyama clan, to the Tokuyama domain as a special envoy, but the Tokuyama clan expressed no apology specifically. Then, in a new negotiation with the chief retainers of the Tokuyama clan, Mototoshi URA requested that Riuemon, who was apparently the murderer, be sentenced to death as a solution, but the negotiation failed again. Over time, the situation in the Nishi-Kume-mura village became so serious that the farmers almost caused an uprising, because ownership of the mountain, which they had considered their own for generations, was claimed by the Tokuyama clan and they were frustrated since only Kihei had been blamed and no punishment had been given to Riuemon. Therefore, Yoshimoto sent Narinobu Shishido as a special envoy to Mototsugu for directly calling on him to reflect his past conduct. However, Mototsugu never tried to make any apology. For this, Satondo NAGOYA, a samurai retainer at the Tokuyama domain, admonished Mototsugu severely, but Motonobu did not take the advice and ordered him to be deported from the Tokuyama-jo Castle area.

The decision of the bakufu

Motohira MORI, the lord of the Kiyosue domain, who had worried about the situation that even a clue to a solution was not found in almost half a year after the incident occurred, stayed in Edo together with Yoshimoto in the Sankinkotai system (a system under which feudal lords in the Edo period were required to spend every other year in residence in Edo). Then, in 1716, Mototsugu also came to Edo in the Sankinkotai system. Therefore, without losing this opportunity, Motohira visited Mototsugu together with Hiromasa MORI, a chief retainer at the Hagi domain, and tried to persuade him the last time, but failed again. Then, on May 31, 1716, Yoshimoto reported the situation to the bakufu, and requested that Yoshitsugu should be resigned from the post and the family head post should be inherited by Momojiro (later Mototaka MORI), the 15-year-old heir. Masataka ABE, Masamine INOUE, Shigeyuki KUZE, and Tadazane TODA, all at the Roju post (the second highest post in the bakufu government), immediately deliberated about the matter, and decided the following: The problem could not be settled in Mototsugu's resignation from the post as Yoshimoto's request in the petition; The Tokuyama domain should be abolished, Mototsugu should be taken care of by the Shinjo domain, and Momojiro, his heir, Sanjiro (later Hirotoyo MORI), his second son, and Kohime (a wife of Mototsura MORI) should be taken care of by the Hagi domain.

The abolishment of the Tokuyama domain

When the Tokuyama domain was abolished, the former retainers of the lord family was astonished by the unexpected development of the incident, and disputed the situation between the hard-liners and soft-liners. However, they agreed on a policy to be patient to restore the Tokuyama domain. Consequently, to avoid conflicting with the Hagi clan any further, they handed over Riuemon to the Hagi clan, responding to their demand, and also agreed on the seizure of his residence.

The former retainers of the Tokuyama family were ordered to vacate their residences by November 13, and moved to their relatives residences in other places including Hagi. At this occasion, Yoshimoto paid each retainer of the Tokuyama family the moving expenses depending on their status, and handled the area of the former Tokuyama domain as an administrative area.

Movements to restore the Tokuyama clan

Initially, Satondo NAGOYA and others, who sought to restore the Tokuyama domain, gathered farmers from villages and tried to appeal to the Hagi domain directly. However, the attempt failed because their movements were stopped in Yamaguchi City en route to Hagi by officers at the Hagi domain. After this, having decided to appeal directly to the bakufu, Satondo communicated with his fellows who had spread to various areas, including Edo, Osaka, Tokuyama, Hagi City, and waited for an appropriate timing while gathering information concerned. Then, on February 1719, Satondo sent a petition with a signature of "Farmers in the Tokuyama territory in Suo" to three persons: Tadayuki MIZUNO, a Roju officer, Shigematsu YOKOTA, an Ometsuke officer (chief inspector of the Edo shogunate), and Shichirozaemon CHIBA, an Metsuke officer (inspector of foot soldiers). This petition gained sympathy of the cabinet officials of the Shogunate, and the restoration of the Tokuyama clan was decided, because there was the opinion that the punishment to abolish the had been too severe. On July 15, taking the form of request from Yoshimoto, Mototsugu was freed from the taken-care-of state, resigned from the lord post, as Yoshimoto requested in the previous year, and it was permitted for Momojiro to inherit the family head position. Consequently, the Tokuyama clan was restored.

[Original Japanese]